Race Report: 2008 Campmor H2H Darkhorse Gallop MTB Race by Joe Azze

This was the 4th race of the Campmor Hudson to Highlands 2008 Mountain Bike Race series and we were really excited to get up to Stewart State Forest where the race was held and a place that offers some of the fastest single track around.  

We were a little unsure if it was going to rain the night before but the clouds held back so that meant the day was going to be a fast one. Again, as always, right from the start of the race it was an all out sprint for position going into the first 1.5 mile prologue that was designed to spread the field out going into the first single track on the 6+ mile course and it did.  

Took a bad line here

We had 4 laps to complete which were sure to be fast and a bit tricky to negotiate with some of the snake like turns at the high speeds we would be racing.  I was feeling strong and running 9th going into the end of the 2nd lap when some tree decided to reach out and grab my handlebars (I got to close) which pulled the bike right out from under me.  I shot off the bike a good 10 feet before I was stopped by a kinder gentler tree.  

I got up right away pretending that all was well, jumped back in the saddle and rode on.  After riding a little and doing a bike check I decided to move on to myself and see just how I faired from the fall.  Other than a few areas of missing tissue and a couple of rocks embedded in my skin I seemed alright.  The wind was knocked out of me but once that returned I hammered a little harder on the pedals.  

I felt great on the 3rd lap and was able to close some gaps and pass a few riders but that was all before I was up ended again, this time by a tiny tree stump that my pedal snagged. All my fault and get up to speed, a bit more pratice. From there on the motive was just to get to the top of the climb and finish what I started so thats just what I did.

Racing mountain bikes at the intensity and speeds that we travel on the narrow single tracks that have many roots, rocks, steep climbs, bombing downhills and tied in with the competitiveness within us, your focus has to be high, your awareness dialed into the moment and a strong belief that you belong...